Director, Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
- The Lake County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate Program) provides advocacy for abused and neglected children in need of services.
- Our trained staff and volunteers investigate, facilitate, and monitor different aspects of CHINS (Child in Need of Services) cases.
- The Lake Superior Court, Juvenile Division locally implemented the CASA program in 1987, and regularly appoints CASA to all cases of child abuse or neglect.
- Last year, CASA represented over 3,000 abused and neglected children in Lake County, Indiana.
The mission of the Lake County CASA Program:
- To advocate for the best interest of abused and neglected children.
- To advocate for safe, permanent and stable living environment for all abused and neglected children in Lake County, Indiana.
- To provide a professional level of advocacy in CHINS proceedings.
- Lake County CASA Program is affiliated with the Indiana State Office of GAL/CASA.
- Lake County CASA Program is certified by the State Office and complies with the Indiana Supreme Court Program Standards and Code of Ethics for GAL/CASA programs.
- Lake County CASA Program is a member of the National Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association.
- The Lake County CASA program recruits, trains and supports CASA volunteers as court appointed special advocates to adequately represent abused and neglected children of Lake County during juvenile court proceedings.
- In addition to speaking for the child in juvenile court, CASA assists abused and neglected children in other ways on their road to recovery. The Lake County CASA program provides abused and neglected children with support and positive encouragement to enable them to lead healthy and productive lives.
CASA volunteer applicant requirements:
- Must be at least 21 years of age.
- Must participate in 30 hours of initial training.
- Must hold at least a High School diploma or a GED certificate.
- Must not be an active foster parent.
- Must not be employed by the Department of Family and Children Services.
- Must participate in a pre-training interview and must pass a criminal background check.
Volunteer Duties and Responsibilities:
- Represent the child’s best interest during participation in CHINS cases.
- Gather information in order to assist the CASA Program in its assessment of the factors contributing to the acts of child abuse or neglect as identified by the Lake Superior Court, Juvenile Division.
- Meet with the child(ren) once a month.
- Speak with individuals who possess relevant information regarding the assigned child, as deemed appropriate by CASA (for example: parents, family members, school officials, doctors, therapists etc.).
- Report findings to the Juvenile Court by submitting written case reports to the CASA office at least 10 business days prior to a review court hearing.
- Attend review court hearings.
- Maintain absolute confidentiality in reference to all case information.
- Monitor the case to ensure that the child receives court-ordered services, and to ensure that the child welfare system continues to move forward efficiently towards a safe and permanent home for the child.
- Consult with a CASA case coordinator/ supervisor.
- Our Volunteers are an integral part of the success of the Lake County CASA Program. Lake County has a statutory obligation to provide abused and neglected children with the best interest representation in juvenile court. Therefore, in every child in need of services (CHINS) case, the CASA program is appointed as the voice of the child, and advocates for the best interest of the child.
- Guaranteeing that the child welfare system responds appropriately to Lake County’s abused and neglected children; the Lake County CASA program is a necessary and vital part of the child protection community. Every day, CASA staff and volunteers make palpable differences in the lives of children. In the juvenile court system, there is no stronger voice for these children in Child In Need of Service cases and there is no other program wherein citizens and government come together in such a dynamic and productive way.
- Based upon a framework of experience and commitment to quality representation, the CASA Program recruits, screens, educates and supervises the efforts of citizen volunteers.
- Over 1000 Lake County citizen volunteers have been trained and sworn by the Lake County CASA Program during its 25 year history. These volunteers bring diverse skills, cultural experiences and insights to our Program. In 2011 alone, volunteers donated nearly 30,000 man-hours and completed 3,732 important face-to-face visits with children. These volunteers also conducted well over 4,000 home visits and/or home studies and reported over 56,000 individual telephone, e-mail or face-to-face contacts involving their assigned cases.
- Because the number of children assigned far exceeds the number of citizens who volunteer, the Program provides representation using hybrid service models, which combine traditional CASA services with triage systems developed to provide universal representation to our large client population. By utilizing a hybrid service model with our citizen volunteers, every child assigned to the Lake County CASA Program is adequately represented. Unlike many other CASA Programs, we do not put children on waiting lists, nor do we simply monitor the progress of cases. Universal representation is an accomplishment of which we are duly proud and, because we provide the Court with relevant, first-hand information about every child, we are a powerful voice for these children.
If you are interested in volunteering for the CASA program, please call 219-738-2272 (CASA)